Do you have a spare room or an empty floor on your house? Well, perhaps you have thought about renting this space out on Airbnb or a similar service. It seems like a no brainer as you basically get paid for others to house sit for you. However, this isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. From legal issues to regional factors there are a lot of components that go into renting out a property. Before you roll out that welcome mat, keep the following things in mind.
The first and probably most important issue to iron out is whether you legally can host a short-term rental at the desired property. States, cities, townships, and even HOA’s can all have their own restrictions when it comes to rentals. With the widespread success of Airbnb, more and more communities are concerned about the effect it will have in high traffic areas where affordable housing is already in high demand.
In Centerville for instance, short term rentals are treated and inspected the same as other rental units, while some cities like Yellow Springs recently passed legislation to heavily regulate the use of short terms rentals, and Oakwood made the somewhat controversial decision to ban these properties. It is essential you do your research on the area and what rules apply to your residence. Airbnb does have an online tool to check for issues such as these, you can also look up your cities municipal code at municode.com. The type of home and length of stay you offer are also possible factors.
It should be noted that even if a rental is allowed, it is likely going to affect your taxes. In Ohio, rentals offering accommodation for fewer than 30 days with “establishments with five or more sleeping rooms” are subject to state sales tax. However local lodging taxes can differ from city to city. Deductions may also be available. Tax time is a maze that catches many of us off guard, so it is wise to consult a professional before this undertaking.
Okay, so you’ve done your due diligence and your area is zoned for a lodgings such as yours, so you’re all ready to rent it out, right? Well, have you talked to your neighbors yet? If your neighbors aren’t aware of your new arrangement, they might be a bit startled by a changing stream of strangers lodging right next to them. To keep the peace with the Smiths next door, Airbnb Superhosts (someone with 80% five-star reviews) recommend reaching out to your neighbors early on and letting them know your plans to avoid drama later.
Location, location, location! While you may find that your neighborhood is zoned for short term rentals, you want to take into account other market factors. Such as, what are other homes in your area valued at? How much does a hotel near you charge daily? You don’t want to charge too high and price yourself out of the market. At the same time, you don’t want the rental fee to be too low that you’re losing more funds that you’re taking in.
Also think about the type of host you want to be. Are you planning to be living in the home when the visitors come to stay? Will you be out of town periodically? Airbnb users can run the gamut of people looking for a place to stay with minimal interaction with their hosts. While some want the full traditional traveler experience complete with dinners and stories. Neither style is wrong, but you want to set the expectations ahead of time. Keep in mind that as a host, you are responsible for everything from communication lines, toiletries, general cleanliness, even to first aid kits and safety instructions. You can set the tone in your properties listing description under “House Rules”.
As you can see, becoming a host is more than just downloading the Airbnb app and taking a few pictures of your home. It’s definitely not a lifestyle for everyone. However, it wouldn’t be catching on so much if it didn’t have its own appeal. Many users have found it to be a great source of income even supplementing the cost of a car or their home. Other superhosts talk of all the great people they have met from different walks of life. Once you take into account all these factors, you can determine whether the Airbnb life is right for you!
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